Compartment Syndrome (cont.)

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What are the complications of compartment syndrome?

Left unrecognized or untreated, the complications of acute compartment syndrome are irreversible. As swelling increases and muscle loses its blood supply, cells eventually die and muscle necrosis occurs. Complications include:

  • muscle scarring, contracture and loss of function of the limb;
  • infection;
  • amputation;
  • permanent nerve damage; and/or
  • rhabdomyolysis and kidney damage.

Complications due to chronic or exercise induced compartment syndrome are rare but may include any of the above, especially if the person requires surgery to alleviate the chronic condition.

What is the prognosis for compartment syndrome?

Acute compartment syndrome is a potentially devastating condition. Return of normal function and minimizing injury depends upon quick recognition of the situation and prompt surgical fasciotomy to resolve the increased pressure. The longer the delay to surgery, the more potential for permanent loss of muscle and nerve function. The prognosis for chronic compartment syndrome is usually excellent.

Medically reviewed by Gregory Polston, MD; American Board of Anesthesiology with subspecialty in Pain Medicine

Bucholz RW, et.al., Rockwood and Green's Fracture in Adults. 6th ed. United States; Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2006

eMedicine.com. Compartment Syndrome, Exremity; Mulitmedia.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/828456-media>

National Institutes of Health. Compartment Syndrome.
<http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001224.htm>


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/21/2014

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